August 18

Holiday Reading: Volume 1

It has been quite some time since I posted a review here. Last week’s review of Black Night Rising by Rod Reynolds was actually penned around 3 weeks ago while I prepared for my holiday. The week before I left I had 5 days of guest posts so the last “real time” review I shared was The Ghost Hunters on 22nd July.

Why is this important?  Well it means that I have almost a month of reading to catch up on and if I tried to do a full (all singing and dancing) review for each book I would never catch up. So a personal challenge…can I cut out all the waffle and do a short and snappy review for a dozen or so books?

Here is what I read on my Summer Holidays (part 1).

ViralViral – Helen Fitzgerald

Finally got around to Viral, the book with THAT opening line. But it is so much more than a single line gimmick, there is a great story here about a family. The successful mother trying to control the fallout from a single shocking incident that was captured on film and is going viral on-line. The clever, sensible daughter who has gained an infamy she could never have expected. Then there is the popular, party-going sister, she hasn’t been looking out for her sibling and is suddenly having to deal with her irate mother and find her missing sister.

Can a family survive, rally round each other and all pull through safely?  Viral is a tense read and comes highly recommended.



Distress Signals – Catherine Ryan Howard

Distress SignalsIs there a serial killer operating on a cruise ship? That question hooked me on Distress Signals as Catherine Ryan Howard outlined how there *could* be. But it may never be discovered and if a killer were to be suspected the actual investigative responsibility seems unclear too!

Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, has gone missing.  She left to attend a business trip but vanished without trace. After getting nowhere reporting his concerns to official channels Adam decides to conduct his own investigation – he is sick with worry and feels he is the only person looking for Sarah.

I really enjoyed Distress Signals, the unusual setting of the cruise ship gave it a claustrophobic feel at times. I shared Adam’s frustration over what may have happened to Sarah and the further into the story I got the more I feared for what may have happened to her.

There was also a somewhat disturbing side story in this book too about a young French boy who we see growing older through a series of flashbacks as the main plot developed. I found these cut-aways fascinating as I could not see how they were going to impact upon Adam’s predicament – kept me reading.

This a good one and I have been recommending it to friends and colleagues for a while.


The Stepmother – Claire Seeber

The Step MotherI read this in a single sitting on my flight to the sunshine. A wonderfully clever domestic thriller which showed the problems a stepmother faces trying to integrate with her husband’s family. There is an ex-wife on the scene, two teenage kids to win over and her new husband’s friends are not exactly welcoming to this new face in the family.

The book challenges the Snow White story – asks you to consider the tale from various viewpoints and asks if the classic fairy-tale princess is really as pure as the white snow she is named after.

The Stepmother was at times a creepy read and this added to my enjoyment. The family live in a huge but remote country house, it is said the house is haunted, when the lead character is home alone (and feeling very vulnerable) there are strange unexplained noises. A room in the house is kept locked – the key allegedly missing. What could be hidden behind the locked door?  I had guesses (they were all wrong).

Very readable and with some cracking twists along the way, The Stepmother is well worth looking out for.



My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend's ExorcismYou know that I love the 1980’s?  Well My Best Friend’s Exorcism is 80’s-tastic!  The pop culture references, the background detail and the Chapter Names being song titles it was the book which just kept giving treat after treat.

The story was also a reading highlight.  Two best friends growing up and going through school together, they bond at a young age and are always there for each other. But on one girls night out someone challenges four friends to try acid. The group are separated deep in the woods and when they are finally reunited one of their number has changed and not in a good way!

Abby is convinced that something bad has happened to her friend Gretchen. She has turned evil, but nobody but Abby seems to be able to see it. As we watch Abby try to work out what has happened to her oldest friend we see just how nasty things are going to get.  I am not kidding when I say that some of the things that take place in My Best Friend’s Exorcism are more unsettling than most James Herbert and Stephen King novels.

Can friendship beat the Devil the cover blurb asks?  I cannot tell you as I want you to read this one and find out for yourself – but be warned, this ramps up the nasty!


By clicking this link: you can read Grady Hendrix explaining why the 80’s were the best decade ever.







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Posted August 18, 2016 by Gordon in category "From The Bookshelf